I made a lot of Chinese food on Monday… NOT, as it were, for Valentine’s Day (blegh), in case anyone was wondering why the dishes were so demonstratively wide-ranging (which I’m sure no one was).  But coincidentally, Joel was over that night and I happened to want to feed him.  Just saying.  JUSTTTT SAYING.  However, I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough meat dishes on the table, and given that most of the Chinese food I make is vegetarian, I did what any good Chinese cook never does and looked up a recipe.  Online, no less.  That was how I stumbled upon this little jewel.  Normally I don’t enjoy sweet savory dishes and I was highly skeptical about this recipe in the first place as it called for KETCHUP, a product I don’t actually own and which was introduced to my peoples via McDonald’s.  But hey I had most of the ingredients and it seemed straightforward enough, so I made it.  And I liked it a lot.  I didn’t stray far from the original recipe.  Added a few more scallions, because I still had a bunch left over from that West African Chicken dish.

This is the chicken after it’s been coated with flour and cornstarch.  Not sure it’s supposed to glop on so unevenly but I’ve never had success in creating visually stunning food that requires encrusting.  Just ask me about the milanesa I made a while ago… terribly ugly but delicious.

Don’t be intimidated by deep-frying!  I used to be for a variety of reasons.  I enjoy fried foods very much, and I plan on enjoying them for as long as possible, so I figured it would be better if I were in control of the oil and mess.  It’s quite easy to do and after you’re done cooking, you can save the oil for another meal by pouring it into an empty glass bottle after it’s totally cooled.  Most of the crumbs will stay on the bottom of the pot.

How can you say no to these morsels??

Ingredients:

canola or peanut oil for frying

2 medium-sized boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 tbsp light soy sauce (FYI, if you got your soy sauce from a non-Asian supermarket, it’s light)

1 tbsp rice cooking wine (I used Shaoxing)

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tsp sugar

1/8 tsp salt

dash of black pepper

3 tbsp flour

1 tbsp corn starch

Sauce

2 tbsp ketchup

1 tbsp honey

1t tsp Sriracha sauce

1 tbsp oyster sauce

1/8 tsp sugar

2 tbsp light soy sauce

3 tbsp water

sesame seeds

(optional) 2 scallions

Equipment:

A medium-sized pot for deep frying

2 bowls

A small pot

How to Make:

Cut the chicken into 1″ pieces.  Marinate in soy sauce, cooking wine, sesame oil, sugar, salt, and black pepper and leave it in the fridge for at least one hour.  I did 1.5 hours.  When ready, combine the flour and cornstarch in another bowl and toss in the chicken.  Mix well to coat, but don’t overdo it like I did, because then the dry ingredients will turn into mush.

In your medium-sized pot (better make sure it’s not flimsy!  I guess this is where the term “heavy-bottomed pot” comes in), add oil up to about 2″ from the bottom.  Let it get to a really hot temperature before you toss your chicken in, otherwise it’ll be mostly soggy and not crispy.  To test the temperature, sprinkle some water into the pot- not directly over it- and if you see or hear sizzling, the oil is ready to go!  Fry chicken in batches, turning occasionally.  It took me on average 3-5 minutes to fully cook each chicken piece.  I took them out of the pot once they reached tanning-salon orange and/or the color of a lion’s mane.

When you have two or three more chicken pieces left, start adding the sauce ingredients to the small pot.  Heat the mixture up, stirring as you go.  Let simmer a couple of minutes, making sure that the sauce is evenly viscous and, importantly, that it’s not burning.  Once simmered, toss in the chicken pieces and coat.  Pour onto a plate.

Scatter sesame seeds over the chicken.  Cut scallions into thin slices and spread over dish.  Enjoy!

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